But short of hibernation, naps — lots of them — are the next best thing. And I highly recommend we all up our sleeping game as part of our New Year's resolutions.
Any way you cut it, this year is going to be a doozy. Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely turn in his report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, potentially triggering impeachment proceedings against President Trump. By this time next year, the 2020 primaries will be in full swing, with America having endured half a dozen or so Democratic debates. Congress will spend 2019 in deadlock, and there is the guarantee of lots of new, very bad tweets from the commander-in-chief. This year could also be the beginning of "a new Great Depression," some experts believe. Heck, as if that wasn't enough, a gigantic "potentially hazardous" asteroid is going to come within a hair's breadth of Earth in February.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Look, I'm tired. Being awake is frequently a horror show! Thankfully, naps are the safest way to gently disengage from reality while also getting to recharge in a world that otherwise demands you run on all cylinders. My high school "I'll sleep when I'm dead" self would hate me for admitting this, but if 2018 taught me anything, it's that the more time we spend unconscious, the better.
I could list the plentiful health benefits of naps, but frankly there are a gazillion wellness suggestions we ought to embrace in the new year and probably won't (mine: eat more kale; be less judgmental of every couple on HGTV). You should take naps for a much more self-indulgent and hedonistic reason: They feel really, really great.
Aside from boosting your productivity and helping you deal with anxiety and stress, sleep is just one of the great pleasures afforded to anyone with a body, thanks in part to the fact that the sleep hormone melatonin literally relaxes your body. Many other wiser cultures have better enshrined the midday check-out into their lives, out of appreciation for the physical and mental pick-me-up. Just think about how exciting it is to get to go back to sleep when you wake up before your alarm clock, then imagine having that feeling any time you want.
Napping is also easy. Aim for around 15 to 20 minutes of snoozing at some point before the evening, when rest might interfere with your nightly block of sleep (or become an accidental 8 p.m. bedtime). Find somewhere dark, private, and quiet to let your guard down if you can — your car or an empty meeting room are good options — although your desk plus an eye mask works just fine in a crunch. Some companies already see the benefits of encouraging naps at work, while a parallel industry of pay-by-the-hour "recharge pods" have popped up to accommodate people who want to duck off the streets for speedy, badly-needed shut-eye.
Think you're still too busy to slow down for a nap? As Very Smart Brothas suggests, you can probably find time somewhere in your day if you really try: "Got a 30-minute lunch break? Eat for 15 minutes, close your eyes for the other 15. Got a 15-minute break? Give yourself five to 10 minutes to close your eyes." Still too busy? Consider reworking your entire schedule to create a break or two during the week for some time to yourself. You are the kind of person who needs naps most of all.
Never has there been such a time when we need to be on when we're awake — holding our leadership accountable, scrutinizing everything we are told, remaining civically engaged when giving up frequently feels more appealing. Naps help us be our best selves when we're conscious. They help us cope with the crazy state of the world. And they feel great, even when everything else can feel punishing.
So be kind to yourself in 2019. Hit the snooze button more. Buy a fancy, expensive pillow. And indulge in a few weekly naps. You're going to need them.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.